So I'm standing outside "The Barn" restaurant ("It's called The Barn because all the animals go there" I was once told), having a smoke, and some hapless soul walks up and asks me for a cigarette. That'll teach me to open up a full pack on Queen Street. As I hand this guy his smoke, he looks at me, and in all sincerity asks "Do you know Tony?".
Just over a decade ago, the UN declared June 20th as World Refugee Day. But in Canada today, we are losing our noble traditions of welcoming refugees and giving them full benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations like the Canada Centre for Victims of Torture that are trying to help out these immigrants in any way they can.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney set off a frenzy in Ottawa after he accidentally sent an e-mail in which he described Alberta's deputy premier as a "complete and utter asshole" to a larger audience than he intended. Such is the problem of the "reply-all" function in e-mail. This simple mistake shows how we have devalued communication and correspondence. Yet, it also exists as the ultimate communication tool.
My greatest fear is that one day Canadians, as fair-minded as they may be, will close their doors to other refugees. Bill C-31 -- Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act -- is now in the Senate where it will be studied and debated. Not only is this bill unconstitutional and inconsistent with Canada's international obligations, it will change the face of Canada as we know it.
Doctors witness the impact of bad public policy on the health of individual patients and their families. When physicians, health workers and community members take a stand on June 18, we stand in solidarity with those affected and fighting for the right to health for all refugees and refugee claimants. This is about some of the most vulnerable people in our society becoming even more so.
Recently, Jason Kenney has proposed drastic changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) -- the program that has allowed many refugees to receive health care. These changes aim to deny access to essential medicines for all refugees and claimants, deny basic healthcare to those deemed to come from a "safe country," and are a poor policy decision.
It is June; summer is here, although Ottawa's weather might make you doubt that. Outside of media-types and pundits, are Canadians breathlessly debating whether or not Bob Rae should break his previous commitment and run for the Liberal leadership? Somehow which brand of mustard to use on your hot dog or hamburger takes on more importance than the leadership of the third struggling party.
If Bill C-31, "Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act," passes in parliament, Canada will lose its reputation for fairness and human rights and, more importantly, hundreds if not thousands of people's lives will be adversely affected. Refugees would be ineligible to sponsor any immediate family members and these refugees would be second-class people in Canada.
Every year, the flow of people fluctuated according to supply and demand. Some years, a total of 60,000 people were allowed in, and some others years 150,000. This guaranteed that immigrants found work because they were screened properly to insure their success. Then in 1986 the Mulroney government opened up the floodgates.
The last excerpt from finalists competing for this year's Donner Prize, to be announced tomorrow, is about "possible reforms to Canadian immigration policy that would benefit not only Canada but those who wish to build their future here.
Happy Earth Day! I hope to spend today, ideally, puttering about my garden. Yes, we can all aspire to do something more high-minded, but even just beautifying your own patch of soil contributes to the pleasure of everyone around you (including even something as simple as a window box).
Relaxing, too, will help me recover from what was truly an amazing week here at HuffPost -- and what promises to be another in the coming week. In home news, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney joined our editorial team on Wednesday for dinner -- and a no-holds-barred question session, including questions from our readers. You'll be impressed by his frankness.
The tar sands industry now faces legal challenges from First Nations, low carbon fuel initiatives in California and the EU, opposition to its pipelines in the U.S., in British Columbia, and in Eastern provinces and states. Are all these people crazy? Is it still you, not me?
For those of you looking for a simple way to represent these ties, here is a graphic that tries to capture some of the main ones uncovered so far. Please pass it around so that some daylight shines into this dirty business.
This isn't about whether we think wearing burqas or niqabs is a good idea or not. The issue is whether a government should be able to impose its notion of national identity on its citizens
It seems we are living in an era of mediocrity where the merging of leftist and Islamist narrative has numbed our ability to see the obvious contradictions this unholy alliance poses to our civilization. How long will this era continue? Will Minister Kenney find allies from across the political divide?
The rules of diplomacy say that the Conservative government cannot directly attack Canada's oil competitors -- particularly the ones it finds distasteful -- so did it prime an outside entity to do so?